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Jeannette Sutton:

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Climate trends indicate that extreme heat events are becoming more common and more severe over time, requiring improved strategies to communicate heat risk and protective actions. However, there exists a disconnect in heat-related communication from experts, who commonly include heat related jargon (i.e., technical language), to decision makers and the general public. The use of jargon has been shown to reduce meaningful engagement with and understanding of messages written by experts. Translating technical language into comprehensible messages that encourage decision makers to take action has been identified as a priority to enable impact-based decision support. Knowing what concepts and terms are perceived as jargon, and why, is a first step to increasing communication effectiveness. With this in mind, we focus on the mental models about extreme heat among two groups of domain experts –those trained in atmospheric science and those trained in emergency management to identify how each group understands terms and concepts about extreme heat. We use a hybrid data collection method of open card sorting and think-aloud interviews to identify how participants conceptualize and categorize terms and concepts related to extreme heat. While we find few differences within the sorted categories, we learn that the processes leading to decisions about the importance of including, or not including, technical information differs by group. The results lead to recommendations and priorities for communicating about extreme heat.


This is the Author's Accepted Manuscript. The version of record can be found here:

Sutton, J., N. Waugh, and S. Olivas, 2023: Communicating about Extreme Heat: Results from Card Sorting and Think Aloud Interviews with Experts from Differing Domains. Weather, Climate, and Society., 15, 453-466,



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